Aquaculture for all

Gulf of Mexico Fish Farm Plan Gets Approval

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GENERAL - Yesterday, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council agreed to open federal waters to commercial offshore fish farms, a move that environmental groups argued could be detrimental to underwater habitat.

The plan allows a permitting process for aquaculturists to raise fish native to the Gulf of Mexico in cages. With its 11-5 vote, the council will send the plan to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which will then decide whether to grant final approval.

Andrea Kavanagh, manager of the Salmon Aquaculture Reform Campaign at the Pew Environment Group responded by saying that rushing to allow open ocean aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico is an accident waiting to happen.

In a statement she said: "If the council is going to create a series of fish farms in federal waters, a national system with uniform guidelines should first be in place.

"Environmental concerns must play a critical role if and when we create national standards for offshore fish farming. For too long, untreated waste, escapes and disease have plagued the aquaculture industry. We cannot ignore their impacts on our fragile ocean ecosystems."

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